Texas’ fantasy about non-citizens voting

Voter fraud is vanishingly  rare. One strategy used by anti-immigration advocates is to count the apparent number of persons who (1) declare themselves non-citizens on their driving licenses and who (2) are listed on voter rolls. I discussed this attempt in Virginia.

The Texas Secretary of State says that some 58,000 matches have voted at least once. That is almost certainly a large over-count of the actual matches. The vast majority of the remaining accurate matches is almost certainly due to non-controversial lags in updating of records.

There are 1.8 million naturalized citizens and 3 million non-citizens in Texas. Driver’s licenses in Texas are issued for five years. Over the course of five years, hundreds of thousands of non-citizens in Texas were likely naturalized. They are not required to update their citizen status except on renewal.

In Virginia, with an adult population of 6.4 million, at most 2,145 persons who were non-citizens voted. That estimate is before you take into account lags in updating records.

Attempts in Florida and Colorado to purge non-citizens turned out to be inconsequential.

So here is the situation in Texas, where there are 3 million non-citizen foreign-born persons and 1.8 million naturalized immigrants. Exact data is not available, but it appears that over the course of a year, some 50-75,000 non-citizens in Texas become naturalized, or perhaps 250,000 or more over five years.

The Texas Secretary of State issued on January 25 an advisory to local election boards about mis-matches between the citizenship status on a person’s driving license and voter registration. The Secretary of State found many voter registrations with identifying information consistent with the person being listed on driver license records as being a non-citizen.

The Secretary of State said in a press release that “95,000 individuals identified by DPS as non-U.S. citizens have a matching voter registration record in Texas, approximately 58,000 of whom have voted in one or more Texas elections.”

Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty wrote that:” In El Paso County election administrator Lisa Wise saw one of her own staff members named on the list of 4,152 names she received. “We had a naturalization party for her” when the staffer became a citizen in 2017, Wise told the Texas Tribune. “She had gone and gotten her driver’s license, I think, four years ago.”

The 95,000 matches found by the Secretary of State likely includes some records for which there is in fact no match. For the accurate matches, the overwhelming explanation is that, was non-citizens became naturalized, they failed to change their citizenship status on their driver’s license, which they could have obtain a decade or longer ago.

There are 18.5 million people living in Texas 18 years or older. Using Virginia as a benchmark, there may be 10,000 on-citizens in Texas who have voted, and that estimate is likely highly inflated due to reporting lags.

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